For phase-change cooling schemes for electronics, quick activation of nucleate boiling helps safeguard the electronics components from thermal shocks associated with undesired surface superheating at boiling incipience, which is of great importance to the long-term system stability and reliability. Previous experimental studies show that bubble nucleation can occur surprisingly early on mixed-wettability surfaces. In this paper, we report unambiguous evidence that such unusual bubble generation at extremely low temperatures-even below the boiling point-is induced by a significant presence of incondensable gas retained by the hydrophobic surface, which exhibits exceptional stability even surviving extensive boiling deaeration. By means of high-speed imaging, it is revealed that the consequently gassy boiling leads to unique bubble behaviour that stands in sharp contrast with that of pure vapour bubbles. Such findings agree qualitatively well with numerical simulations based on a diffuse-interface method. Moreover, the simulations further demonstrate strong thermocapillary flows accompanying growing bubbles with considerable gas contents, which is associated with heat transfer enhancement on the biphilic surface in the low-superheat region.
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